Morales-Hernández Lab

The University of Michigan School of Dentistry



Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are the most therapeutically exploited adult stem cells, used routinely to treat leukemia and hematologic disease via HSC transplantation. Every year in the United States, 20,000 HSCTs are performed. However, problems remain with this treatment.

Transplantation requires donor HSCs to engage with the proper supporting niche, survive, proliferate, and differentiate into mature blood cells. Not all patients have access to suitable donors. Immunological complications, such as graft-versus-host disease, contribute to high morbidity and mortality rates. For donors, the vast majority of transplants use HSCs from mobilized peripheral blood (mPB). Collecting HSCs from mPB requires a multi-day treatment, which comes with high rates of grade 4 and 5 side effects, including debilitating bone pain, headache, malaise, nausea, sub-febrile body temperature and night sweats. About 50% of contacted donors decline to donate and about half of those who decline do so because of fear of side effects or the inconvenience of spending days in the hospital for cell collection. Illuminating new molecular regulators of HSC transplantation can inform efforts to improve current HSC-based therapies by improving the efficiency of both transplant and collection of donor HSCs. Improved efficiency could reduce HSCs numbers required per transplant, easing the donation process. This could also allow for increased use of cord blood HSCs, which are currently limited in application due to delayed engraftment kinetics that largely result from small cell numbers.

In summary, HSC transplantation is an excellent therapeutic approach, extensively use to treat hematopoietic pathologies, but it is still far to be perfect. Thus, in the Morales-Hernández lab, we want to have a better understanding of the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that control HSC self-renewal, stemness, homing, engraftment, and hematopoietic reconstitution, which could lead to novel strategies to overcome challenges currently facing HSC transplantation.


Antonio Morales-Hernández

Antonio Morales-Hernández, PhD
Assistant Professor of Dentistry, Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine, School of Dentistry
Principal investigator | 7347643870

Antonio Morales-Hernández joined the laboratory of Drs. Pedro Fernández-Salguero and Jaime Merino, where he earned his PhD in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Genetics at the University of Extremadura (Spain). His PhD project focused on the function of the dioxin receptor in cell differentiation and lung regeneration. While pursuing this work, he received excellent training in molecular biology, genetic mouse modeling, cell differentiation and trafficking and the relatively unexplored and exciting field of transposable elements (TEs). This work piqued his interest in Stem Cell Biology and so he decided to pursue further training in this area and therefore joined Dr. Shannon McKinney-Freeman’s laboratory at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for his postdoctoral training. Since then, he gained expertise in hematopoietic stem cell (HSCs), which has allowed him to develop his own research program focused on elucidating how loss of GPRASP proteins regulate HSCs function along with side projects focused on general HSCs biology. He is the recipient of the NIH/NIDDK K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Grant.



Antonio Morales-Hernández Lab
Assistant Professor
Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine
University of Michigan School of Dentistry
1011 N University Ave, Office: 2213 and Lab: 2310A
Ann Arbor 48109-1078, MI

Phone: 7347643870